When I was on board the JUNK the other night I talked with Marcus and Joel about plastic pollution – of course. Hard not to, when the raft beneath our feet was a monument to the issue, being kept afloat by 10,000 plastic bottles lashed together in cargo netting.
And we agreed that we are not against plastics per se. Plastics have many valuable uses – apart from keeping rafts afloat, plastic is used for many other things that could not easily be substituted with any other material. Looking around the Brocade, I have plastic waterproof bags, Pelican cases, sea anchor buoy, buckets, seed sprouter, food containers and most of my electronics.
No, what we are against is not the use of plastic, it’s the ABuse of plastic, particularly for items that are intended to be disposable. According to the printed cotton grocery bag the JUNK guys gave me, over one million plastic bags are used PER MINUTE world-wide. And it can take over 300 years for them to break down. That leads to some scary arithmetic if you work out how many billions or trillions of plastic bags we could end up with.
As a parallel example, I was working in Information Technology in the run-up to the year 2000, and we were all obsessed with the so-called Millennium Bug. The fear was that all computer-based systems would grind to a halt thinking that 00 signified 1900 rather than 2000. We cursed the short-sighted predecessors who had somehow overlooked the fact that the year 2000 would inevitably arrive – or at least had counted on it not arriving until they were safely retired.
And yet are we not now guilty of similar short-sightedness if we think that we can carry on producing plastic goods indefinitely, and not eventually be up to our eyes in cast-off plastics? Will future generations look back at our era and curse us for our short-sighted stupidity?
Unfortunately democracy does not encourage long-term thinking at governmental level. Plastics (like cars) are so convenient, and so integrated a part of our lives – no politician who wanted to get elected is likely take a tough stand on widespread reduction of plastic usage.
So action has to start at the grassroots level. We all need to do our bit to make a difference – and plastic bags and plastic water bottles are a good place to start. Rather than relying on recycling, let’s REDUCE the amount of plastic being generated – a much better solution with a smaller carbon footprint and overall lower environmental impact. Get your re-usable grocery bags (organic cotton or bags made from recycled plastic are best) and your water filter. And do your bit to save this wonderful planet of ours.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If we pull together, we can make a world of difference!
Last chance to get me into the top 25 for the AMEX list! I need to make the shortlist to have a chance of qualifying for a share of the funds – and further funding is crucial to the second leg of my Pacific row, and the environmental documentary based on my adventure. Having just said democracy is flawed. VOTE FOR ME PLEASE!!
Position at 2100 18th August HST, 0700 19th August UTC: 22 26.722’N, 150 31.022’W.
A hot and calm day today – not conducive to high mileage, but I kept plugging away, fuelled by regular bribes of Larabars and wild salmon jerky. For a while this afternoon there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and over the calm seas I could see all the way to the horizon. Blue above, blue below. The ocean looked like a very big place.
Well done to Team GB for a promising start to the Olympics. Mum sent me an update a few days ago to say we were third in the medals table. Fantastic! Congrats to all the athletes – especially the rowers.
Thank you for all the messages – and for the donations that keep on trickling in. All very much appreciated. You are kind, wonderful and generous people!
Thanks especially to Sandi for my virtual trip from Lands End to John O’Groats. So I’m in the Peak District now? I must drop in on my friend Penny in Hathersage! I love the moors around there – thank you for conjuring up happy memories of long rambles and country pubs!
Thanks, too, to John H for the links to the following articles. The oceans really are in trouble. Quite apart from the plastic pollution, see what else is happening.
*Ocean ‘dead zones’ expanding worldwide: study*
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Oceanic “dead zones” where marine life cannot survive have been steadily increasing over the past five decades and now encompass 400 coastal areas of the world, a US-Swedish study.
The number of these areas, in which aquatic ecosystems disappear due to lack of oxygen in the water, have “approximately doubled each decade since the 1960s,” said the study in the journal Science on Friday.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A maroon-striped marauder with venomous spikes is rapidly multiplying in the Caribbean’s warm waters and even off the East Coast – swallowing native species, stinging divers and generally wreaking havoc on an ecologically delicate region.
The red lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that probably escaped from a Florida fish tank, is showing up everywhere – from the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola to Little Cayman’s pristine Bloody Bay Wall, one of the region’s prime destinations for divers.
Wherever it appears, the adaptable predator corners fish and crustaceans up to half its size with its billowy fins and sucks them down in one violent gulp.
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Do look at the Books box Roz’s latest recommendation is there, amongst many other books: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake – or purchase it from Audible.com
Day 86 of the Atlantic Crossing, 26 February 2006: No news, no blog.